According to NFL.com, the Houston Texans struck a two-year deal worth $9 million, with nose tackle Vince Wilfork this past Monday. While the team was in dire need of someone to fill the hole inside their 3-4 defense, there are still fears roaming around fans’ minds that this feels awfully similar to, the former safety, Ed Reed fiasco in 2013. No one needs reminding that the NFL is a business and that all players are in the business of milking their career for every penny a team is willing to pay.
So the question remains, did Wilfork pull one over on the Texans? Is his career already over the hill? No.
And here’s why.
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Houston wins in this deal because of how much more bang for your buck you can get with Vince Wilfork over an aging safety. First off, you have to compare the viability of both positions in the NFL as a career. The simple fact is as a safety in the NFL, your speed is the largest value you bring to the table. Ergo, it becomes more and more difficult to remain effective, the older one gets.
Ed Reed came to the Texans at age 34, a few steps down already from his prime. A few games with Reed allowed general manager Rick Smith and Co. to see the future Hall-of-Famer was clearly in decline. Even being past his glory days, the Houston camp still hoped he would serve a few useful roles within the team as an experienced player and leader, however it unfortunately would never pan out that way.
As for playing defensive tackle, it’s much easier to extend your NFL career as you gain your weight in wisdom, literally when you’re 325 pounds. At 33, last year, Wilfork was playing some of his best football in his 12-year career, during the post season. At $9 million for two years and only $5 million guaranteed, the Texans got a steal if Wilfork only plays as well as he did last year alone. Lining up between fellow lineman, J.J. Watt and a potentially healthy Jadeveon Clowney, he should flourish in the 2015 year.
If you’re wondering how much more teams are willing to gamble with big boys on defense right now then just look at the deal the Cowboys recently made with pass rusher Greg Hardy, whom they know is likely to serve a four game suspension next year. Not to mention the fact that after defensive tackle Louis Nix III was ruled out after injuring his wrist early last season, the Texans picked up defensive lineman Ryan Pickett who then at 34, was older than Wilfork is now.
The next issue with Reed was his leadership. I’m sure the Texans fantasized about some of the wisdom and experience he could bring to teach the budding secondary that had been put under a lot of scrutiny in the past. Houston has already brought in former NFL defensive back Deion Sanders to talk with the secondary after one practice earlier in the year. The opposite, however, happened as Reed continued to publicly criticize the team in television interviews and cause division within the locker room.
The only real concern you could legitimately have with the 325 pounder wearing red and blue is him being injury prone. Even that would be laughable because the 2013 campaign was the first time in his 12-year that he’s ever missed more than three games in a season.
The giant safety net hanging under this deal for the Texans is composed of two factors. First, only $5 million is guaranteed to Wilfork so the team can revisit the deal in the summer in case things go sour. Secondly, if Ryan Pickett was brought into the team last year in an effort to mentor young Louis Nix III then you have to view Wilfork as a major upgrade.
There aren’t many deals you can call a slam-dunk but the one the Texans inked with Wilfork is as close as you can get in the NFL.